Marcella Paulakis

I knew I wanted to work for a consulting firm, but I wasn’t exactly sure which one. I started looking for a firm to work at after finishing college and passing my actuarial exams. When I interviewed with Milliman I was impressed with the number of bright and talented consultants there. This, along with Milliman’s collegial atmosphere, made the choice easy.

In college, I had both short-term and long-term goals for my career, and Milliman has helped me achieve the short-term goals and work toward the long-term ones.

In the short term, I hoped to make significant progress toward my FSA designation. The study program at Milliman is great for that. In the long term, I hope to become a well-rounded consultant with strong technical and consulting skills.

I work with a diverse team from analysts just out of college to consultants with more than 20 years of experience in the pension consulting field.

In my job, I provide actuarial and administrative employee benefit services to corporate, multiemployer, and not-for-profit employee benefit plans. My experience includes funding and accounting valuations, funding projections, nondiscrimination testing, individual benefit calculations, and annual compliance of defined benefit plans.

I never expected to have so much client contact so early on in my career.

The consultants here are great about letting me participate in meetings. Sometimes I even find myself in the room with the CFO of a company.

Things are always changing in pension consulting, which keeps it interesting.

Given the volatile economic environment, as well as new pension legislation, clients are always looking for different types of advice.

A company like Milliman, whose roots are in actuarial consulting, is well suited to managing risk in the current economic environment because we have tools and resources available to us to address new problems effectively. For example, in the pension practice, I believe the intellectual capital at Milliman has enabled us to adapt successfully to the new economic environment and pension legislation. We’ve set up several initiatives to do this, including weekly conference calls across the New York practice so that we discuss what each of us is doing to help clients manage new concerns due to pension legislation and the economic environment.

In the New York office we don’t really focus on job titles, which makes it easy to walk into an equity principal’s office to discuss a project.

We all see ourselves as part of one big team. The atmosphere in my office is friendly. The doors are always open if you have a question or just want to chat. Once in a while, we’ll get together for happy hour or organized events outside of the office.

Although studying for exams complicates work/life balance, I don’t find it especially difficult.

Of course there are times when I’m busier than usual at work, but I’ve learned to take advantage of my free time when I’m not. Milliman also helps out with work/life balance by hosting social events like post-exam parties and summer events. When I’m not working, I work out, go to the theater or concerts, and read something other than actuarial textbooks.

The most significant outcome of my work is helping our clients make decisions that affect the livelihood of their employees, either directly through improvements or cuts to their pension benefits, or indirectly through advice that may affect the financial status of the company.

My advice to a new employee in my office: “It is what you make it.”

There are great resources available locally and nationally to foster a great career at Milliman and as an actuary—and it’s up to you to seek those out.

I often hear Milliman described as “the actuary’s actuary.”

Consultants at Milliman are recognized for the great work that they do for their clients, and that’s something recognized by our peers.